Monday was yet another victory day for the Apple.com, the dream-company of the late Steve Jobs, when The International Trade Commission ruled that Apple Inc. cannot be blamed for the violation of patented copyrights of HTC Corp. for technology which, the HTC claimed, were applied for the manufacturing of the mobile phones, developed by Apple.
Though it was a real setback for the HTC, the Taipei-based mobile phone manufacturer, but it was, definitely, a D-Day for the Apple, the maker of iPhone and iPad series of mobile devices which has many ongoing patent disputes with many of its rivals around the Globe.
In July, Grace Lei, HTC’s general counsel, issued a statement which mentioned that, “HTC is dismayed that Apple has resorted to competition in the courts rather than the market place”. But all the law-abiding and principled people liked the stand of Apple of Steve Jobs on ‘Principles’ who refused to surrender to those who violated the copyright law.
The HTC devices for which HTC was accused of violation of copyright laws in United Kingdom included the HTC Wildfire, HTC Desire, HTC Hero, and the HTC Flyer – the first Android tablet powered by Android.
While issuing initial determination on Monday, ITC ruled that the devices, manufactured by Apple, did not violate four of HTC’s patents which included usage of technology for look up & quick dialing phone numbers and techniques for managing power consumption on devices, particularly, mobile devices.
Though this was the third time that HTC accused Apple for breaching the copyrights of Wi-Fi capability and processor communication technology but Grace Lei, General Counsel of HTC, defended its right by saying, “We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones”. On the other hand, Samsung, the manufacturer of Galaxy series of cell and smartphones, has also filed a lawsuit against Apple and in response to its suite Apple has also filed a suit against the South Korea-based Samsung for breaching the copyrights.
Copyright Law Insinuation
In August, HTC, Asia’s second largest smartphone manufacturer after Samsung, took very aggressive step and bought nine patents from Google (according to geeks, to fight against the Apple and to use them to file new patent lawsuits against Apple). Google had acquired the 4 patents from Motorola, 3 from Openwave Systems and 2 from Palm. Though Google did not issue any explanation to this sale but again geeks are of the view that this was done to counter the expected claim of Apple against the Google that Android was replica of iOS. Android is on way to become highest selling smartphone software in the mobile market with $206.6 billion global sale this year whichis the main reason that Google is under attack from rivals, such as, Apple and Microsoft Corp. who have alleged infringement by handset makers that use Android.
But, HTC (High Tech Computer Corporation – founded in 1997 by Cher Wang, HT Cho, and Peter Chou) is determined to fight further as it is taking this decision as a lost battle not a lost War and is planning to go for the review in ITC. HTC General Counsel Grace Lei said in a statement, “We are confident that we have a strong case for the ITC appeals process and are fully prepared to protect our intellectual property”.
Analysts are watching this situation in the scenario of many coming rulings, such as:
- On Nov. 13, a further preliminary ruling may come from ITC on accusation from HTC that Apple violated two patents owned by S3 Graphics (a Fremont, Calif.-based graphic chipmaker), a company HTC is in the process of acquiring. Remember, on July 1, 2011, U.S. International Trade Commission determined that Apple is infringing on two patents owned by S3 Graphics while not infringing on two others but the final decision is expected in November (Findings of ITC judge James Gildea, were that Apple is infringing on a one claim from United States Patent No. 6,683,978 and two claims from United States Patent No. 6,658,146).
- On December 6, the final ruling from ITC will issue a final ruling on a case where it preliminarily ruled HTC had violated two Apple patents.
What Would Happen or Should Happen?
The ruling of Monday and the coming ones may decide imports of HTC devices into the U.S. market as Apple is looking for the blockade (injunction) of Android devices in US while HTC is looking toward gaining more leverage for the cross-licensing agreement.
Role of Microsoft is still very interesting as the Microsoft gives the ‘Thumps up’ to Apple’ very silently. Could it be that Apple and Microsoft – the two traditional foes – are now joining hands to fight against a new but joint foe in an effort to stop Google’s emerging Android platform dead, right in its tracks?
Though almost all the mobile device manufactures are engaged against active blame game and legal fight against each other but one has to see the overall interest of common users. Can there be settlement among the manufacturers to facilitate the end consumers? This is the question of time.